- Buhari escapes mob attack
- Suicide bomber kills 50 in Yobe
- Gov, Army chief cheat death
It was black Sallah for the Muslim community in Nigeria yesterday as over 50 people were confirmed dead in Damaturu, Yobe state, while the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Major General Tukur Buratai, and the governor of Yobe state, Ibrahim Gaidam, narrowly escaped death at the Eid prayer ground.
In Abuja President Muhammadu Buhari was also mobbed as enthusiastic worshippers and youths at the Eid prayer ground beat security condone as they surged towards him.
It was gathered that the Damaturu suicide bombing was carried out by two little girls between the ages of 10 and 11 who detonated the bombs at screening areas of the Eid prayer ground.
Thousands of Islamic faithful had thronged the prayer ground to observe the end of the Ramadan fasting.
The bombs exploded not more than two kilometers away from the Yobe Mosque and Islamic Centre Eid Prayer ground where the visiting Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Major General Tukur Buratai, and the governor of Yobe state, Ibrahim Gaidam, joined thousands of other worshipers to observe the end of fasting prayer.
General Buratai arrived Damaturu on Thursday in line with his earlier promise to join troops on ground to celebrate the Eid el Kabir and also boost their morale.
A witness said the two girls tried to access the Eid prayer ground from different entry points and had to pass through security checks mounted by volunteers.
“It was when the first girl was being screened that the blast happened,” a police officer present at the scene said. “Shortly after that, another one went off from yet another little girl aged between 11 and 10 years.”
The Nigerian Army yesterday confirmed the death of 50 persons in the two separate bomb explosions in Damaturu.
A statement issued in Abuja by the acting-director of army public relations, Colonel Sani Usman, said the explosions occurred at screening areas of the Eid prayer ground.
According him, many other persons were injured in the explosions suspected to have been masterminded by insurgents.
“This is to confirm that there were two suicide bomb explosions today at about 7:40 a.m. in Damaturu, Yobe, in which two female suicide bombers – one elderly woman and a ten year-old girl -detonated the devices,” Mr. Usman said. “It occurred at screening areas for intending Muslim worshipers at Layin Gwange, Damaturu and at Phase1, in front of former state secretariat, Damaturu.”
He said 43 persons died in the first explosion while seven people died in the second explosion.
The army spokesperson assured the public that the relevant authorities had brought the situation under control.
He assured that no amount of terrorist act would deter the Nigerian Army’s resolve to stamp out terrorism and insurgency.
Colonel Usman said Governor Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe and the Chief of Army Staff, Maj.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, had called on the residents of the area to stay calm and be security conscious.
However, the police in Yobe state said 15 people were killed. A police spokesperson, Toyin Gbadegeshin, made this confirmation when he spoke to journalists in Damaturu.
“The total number of death casualty is 15 persons,” he said.
Mr. Gbadegeshin said no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks; even though many residents had no doubt that it was an attack by Boko Haram terrorists.
Witnesses in the area, including a police officer who did not speak officially, had claimed that the attacks were carried out by two little girls.
Earlier reports from a source in a hospital at Damaturu had confirmed 10 dead.
In Abuja President Buhari, who had joined Muslim faithful in the city to observe the prayers, was almost mobbed by youths who nearly overwhelmed his security guards.
Speaking on the issue when Abuja residents later joined him at his residence to pay homage, the President admitted that it is only God and not heavy security cordon that protects leaders all over the world.
Amidst laughter from his guests, Buhari said he had to hold tight to his agbada and quickly rushed into his car.
He added that with what happened with President Ronald Reagan of the United States, it was clear that only God can protect leaders.
He said anybody armed with a sharp knife could have caused havoc in that kind of riotous situation.
The President said, “I thank you most sincerely for fulfilling the tradition of greetings for whoever occupies this place. I thank you very much for your loyalty to the country, as represented by our institutions and to the system.
“Today, during and immediately after the prayers, I think I was bombarded by the youths who almost overwhelmed the security, and I had to hold tight to my agbada to get to my car.
“I was advised to enter the car from the ADC side and I refused. I went across trying to wave my hand to the wild youths who wanted to see me.
“On an occasion like this, it shows that after what happened to President Ronald Reagan of the USA, it is only God Almighty that protects leaders because in a mob like this, anybody with a sharp knife can get access and do a lot of damage.
“So, all the policemen that were deployed and soldiers since six o’ clock in the morning, before I came out two hours later in the rains, cannot protect you, only God protects. I hope God will continue to protect us.”
Speaking earlier, Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who also joined the delegation, commended the President for giving an enabling environment for peaceful coexistence in the country.
This, he said, was in fulfillment of Buhari’s electoral promise that no religion would be given undue advantage over others under him.
Osinbajo assured Nigerians that they would soon be enjoying the good of the nation that will be made possible by the present administration.
“Our country is one with a great potential. We should contribute our quota to its development and in no time, we will see a great change. All of us will enjoy this nation. Even our children and grandchildren will enjoy the good of the land,” he said.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary of the FCT, Mr. Obinna Chukwu, urged all Nigerians to be their neighbours’ keepers and continue to work for the peace of the country.
He said he led the delegation to pledge their loyalty and commitment to the President and his administration.
He later presented Sallah gifts which included a giant greeting car, a photo frame and a mat designed in the national colours.